Escape Room Crate Review #1: Finders Seekers – Mont Saint Michel

My family is absolutely hooked on doing Escape Rooms. It’s something I’m singing the praises of to everyone. I literally can’t believe something so cool is taking off the way it is. But, there’s this niggling little voice in the back of my head screaming “THIS IS A FAD! ALL THESE PLACES WILL BE OUT OF BUSINESS BY THE END OF THE DECADE!” I’m not trying to be a debbie-downer here, but I think every fan of the Escape Room phenomena is operating under the assumption that the party could stop at any time. In fact, Covid drove a stake through the heart of many. I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts. For those that don’t know, it’s exactly what it sounds like: you’re locked in a room and have an hour to get out. The room contains all the clues you need to escape. There’s usually a sequential order to the puzzles, but sometimes there’s literally just a chest with a dozen padlocks on it and you have to figure out which puzzle goes to which lock and what the combo is. Speaking of which, if you want to do these: practice at a variety of combination locks. Trust me. We’ve lost exactly one room in 2021, and that was because we didn’t have the combo in the correct position in the lock, despite having the correct number. Grrrrr.

The other issue is you’ll inevitably run out of rooms you haven’t done. Most establishments have 3 or 4, maybe more. Many also have only one or two decorated rooms, with the rest relying on virtual reality. I can’t do virtual reality, as one of the keys to beating epilepsy is distance from a TV screen, and VR is literally strapping a television next to your eyeballs. Many of the establishments around here rotate their rooms every 3 or 4 months, but with Covid, they’ve curtailed that. We’re not TOTALLY tapped out yet, but our thirst for more puzzling needs to be quenched. But, one of my fans on Twitter who knew of my family’s obsession with Escape Rooms asked if we’d ever considered doing the mail-order ones that you play in the privacy of your own home. Um.. no, and that actually sounds fucking awesome. So, we subscribed to a few. The first one just arrived yesterday, and I’d like to talk to you all about it.

Finders Seekers came arrived in our mail box, and I was sort of stunned at how small it physically was. “Crate” in this case is about as thick as a normal pizza box, but nowhere near as long. We all were a bit disappointed.. until we opened it. The elaborate puzzle-based mystery therein was genuinely the most fun we’ve had “playing a game” at home in years. It actually feels like a stripped-down Escape Room that keeps the best elements from the physical locations, IE the puzzles, and works them into a linear storyline that was razor thin on plot BUT engaging enough that all five of us cared about the ultimate solution. To their team’s credit, they also do their best to give the truly dedicated families/groups ways to immerse themselves by recommending Spotify music to play over the game, though for the life of us we couldn’t get it to run on any device without crapping out after 10 seconds.

Everything that comes in this month’s box. Some puzzles were better than others. We were especially annoyed with one that’s like a maze but also a weave, which was a bit obtuse. In fact, we actually solved that one by working backwards from the exit and logic-ing out what the letters COULDN’T be.

Contained within the box was several different puzzles, all of which used their own rules, cyphers, and logic. In order to play a Finders Keeper box, you MUST have direct access to a device with a web browser, since the padlocks or keys common to escape rooms are replaced with entering the passwords you discover into a web browser. You’ll work your way from one enclosed element to another. This particular crate came with thirteen “elements.” Among them, a satchel of French lavender that stunk to high heaven.. in a good way.. and a folding cup with a lid. You start the adventure by typing in a specific web address that will guide you along the journey. It feels almost like a physical version of Professor Layton, where every person you encounter will present you with a puzzle to solve. Take one of the elements, figure out what about it contains the password, and enter it into the provided box OR boxes provided on the website. The story is also presented chapter-by-chapter on the site.

I’m not kidding when I say we smelled the box this shipped in from our porch.

The puzzle design is truly the standout aspect of Finders Seekers. We worked out every puzzle as a group, and when we correctly entered the password into a device, we cheered and slapped high fives. You don’t need to be a super-genius for them. If you have a group, at least one of you is bound to figure out what the “trick” is and then, as a group, you can sort it out from there. IN THEORY an individual can easily do these. If I had a knock on this, it’s that they don’t give you a cheap option to have them double-up some of the elements for multiple people. We sat at a round table and all would stare at each one, but only one person of course is going to have the best view. We would pay extra to add extra copies, but not so much that we just pay twice for one box. Something they may want to consider. They might also want to consider doing their own app that you use to “drive” each of their monthly games instead of using a URL and a web browser, which could also be designed to be more immersive. And, yes, the story COULD be better written. Again, the Professor Layton “flimsy excuse to present a puzzle” vibe is thick, but like Layton, you inevitably care about the ultimate point of it all by time it’s done. It NEVER comes close to the immersion an escape room can achieve (duh, we’ve done ones where you start handcuffed to the wall), but the puzzles are exactly like the ones you encounter in them, and you don’t even have to waste time finding them!

We optionally recommend each player carry a pen and paper notepad while playing.

A quick side-note: Finders Seekers updates their Facebook and Instagram accounts. BUT, their Twitter has been dead since 2018. They really need to get someone updating that. We genuinely were worried they’d gone out of business. DON’T DO THIS, ANYONE WHO MAKES GAMES! You are genuinely better off closing down that social media page than just leaving it stagnant.

We had a LOT of fun playing Mont St. Michel. Even without the pressure of the timer of a normal escape room, anyone should be able to complete this box in a couple hours, and there’s NO replay value. We did write on ours, but it’s not necessary. You could, in theory, not write on it and then pass it on to someone else. The business model is based on a subscription, or you can order one at a time for $30. Mind you, $30 is the average price for one person to enter an Escape Room. Go with a group of four and you’re spending $120. A year’s subscription will run you $300, essentially giving you two months for free. We have subscribed for a year, and we’re also planning on ordering a few of their in-stock past boxes (though apparently those go quick). For our first-ever Escape Crate AND our first Finders Seekers box, Mont St. Michels was VERY fun, and we’re extremely excited for what else they’ll come up with. Really good, guys. Tons of fun! But, let’s see if that can be maintained over the course of a year.

Visit Finders Seekers website to subscribe.
$12.50 (Normally $25 per a month, but this month we had a 50% off our first month discount) was spent in the making of this review. A single month of Finders Seekers will cost $30.

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

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